tv ABC World News Sunday ABC August 15, 2010 6:00pm-6:30pm EDT
i'm dan harris. tonight on "world news," outrage. the president steps into a mine field with his support of that muslim community center near ground zero. now, the debate. will it cost democrats in november? out of control. eight people dead after a truck plows into spectators at an off-road race, bringing new attention to an extreme sport and its extreme fans. hearts and minds. american troops rushing to help those flood victims in pakistan before extremist muslim groups can. silent killer. drowning in plain sight. the life guard trying to disspell the myths and save lives. and, mormon makeover? what's behind these slick new tv ads spreading the message that mormons can be cool, too? good evening.
sometimes, politicians stumble into controversy. but president obama seems to have marched straight into it this weekend, when he joined the fight over whether there should be a muslim community center near ground zero. the issue followed the president down to the gulf, where he spent the weekend, but the question tonight is, will it follow him and his party all the way to the elections in november? we're going to start tonight with david kerley, who has been traveling with the president. >> reporter: on gulf waters, the president was hoping to promote tourism here. he took the helm of the boat. but it's trying to steer through the controversial waters of the ground zero mosque debate that is proving treacherous. >> this is such a raw wound. i think the president, by the way, is trying to have it both ways. >> ground zero is hallowed ground. two blocks away, first of all, is not so hallowed grown. >> reporter: within four blocks of ground zero, two strip clubs, an adult and lingerie shop and offtrack betting. muslims have been praying at
this building for months before announcing their plans to turn it into a new 12-story center. >> there would be no better place. >> reporter: the woman behind the project told us that muslims also died at ground zero. >> we want to reach out to those who don't understand us. >> reporter: on friday, the president ignited the latest fire storm by saying the muslim group has a right to build its center. but he clarified hours later. >> i was not commenting and i will not comment on the wisdom of making a decision to put a mosque there. >> reporter: the president, for months, stayed out of this debate. injecting himself has provided republicans another talking point leading right into the november elections. >> probably the dumbest thing has said since michael due kay kis said it was okay to burn the flag. >> reporter: one senior republican says democrats will lose elections. >> the white house, the administration, the president himself seems to be disconnected from the main stream of america. >> reporter: leaving the gulf and heading out to raise campaign money this week --
>> i'll get you one right now. >> reporter: it's unlikely the president will be able to leave this behind. david kerley, abc news, florida. >> as david mentioned, there are some political ramifications here, so, we're going to go to rick klein for his weekly "political insights" segment. are the republicans right when they say the democrats are going to be hurt by this in november? >> reporter: dan, this is taking a local issue and made it national. every democrat in the country can be asked the question, do you agree or disagree with the president on this issue? and they know in answering that question that president is on the minority side. most of the public disagrees with him this is also an issue that's particularly controversial among the very independent voters that democrats need to keep in the fold if they are going to hold only the majority. >> the white house said the president knowingly took an unpopular stance because it's a matter of principle. why do you think he felt the need to clarify his statement? >> reporter: the white house contends this wasn't a
clarification, this was consistent with his initial state, just an important thing to emphasize. there was a difference in tone. and that had democrats even more frustrated. they saw a message that was muddled on an issue they wish he hadn't weighed in on in the first place. they see political ramifications they're not happy about. they know the white house has taken a presidential stand here. that's not what they want to see. >> rick klein, thank you. >> reporter: thank you. and now, to a disaster in the desert in california during an off-road race. an extreme sport in which trucks speed around dirt tracks, spe spectators plaque tickly on top of the action. but that appeal cost eight people their lives. mike von fremd is there tonight. mike? >> reporter: good evening, dan. the mojave desert is a mecca for off-road racing. this tragedy occurred, in part, because thousands of fans wanted to get as close to the excitement as possible. race fans are supposed to keep themselves 100 feet away from
the charging off-road vehicle. but the carnage occurred as some were standing just feet away from the truck, reaching speeds in excess of 60 miles per hour. >> people got ran over, just bodies were flown everywhere, just -- bones broken, everything. >> reporter: it's a 200-mile race, but the most dangerous section is a daredevil jump called the rock pile. where the driver lost control and his truck cap put into the crowd. >> people were screaming and it was horrible. >> reporter: this racetrack is in such a remote area that it took helicopters and ambulances more than half an hour to try and rescue the victims. the vehicle that caused the damage was flipped upside down. the driver, brett sloppy, was unhurt. but on his facebook page, he writes, so, incredibly lost and devastated. my thoughts and paraders go out to all the families and friends involved. the organizers generally do not have the money to police the crowds at these races.
so, they depend on federal and local officials to patrol the crowds. and some of the races are held at night to avoid the extreme heat. >> everyone gets as close as they can. it's an exciting thing. >> reporter: off-road racer and the renal nall director for the sport is worried that this accident may mean an end to these races. >> california is one of the only states that allows this type of activity. it's one of the last frontier areas where we can get out and race these cars. i fear it could severely constrain us to the point where we can't even race. >> reporter: now, the driver has not been charged with a crime. after the accident, the highway patrol confirms that the crowd turned on him and police had to provide protection. dan? >> terrible scene. mike, thank you. mike von fremd reporting from california tonight. there is a new twist tonight in a sensational murder case. this morning, the alleged craigslist killer was found dead
in his jail cell. here's aaron we terse can i. >> reporter: a former medical student, authorities say philip markoff knew how to kill. he was going to stand trial for murdering julissa brisman. last night, he cut his wrists and tied something tightly around his neck. in a statement, boston police said he was alone in his cell and took his own life. >> if markoff is the sociopath he seems to be, he would not be the one to person to face the music, face the trial. >> reporter: he had attempted suicide at least twice before, end colluding the day after his arrest last april. it's behavior that sharply differs from his apparent calm after the killing of julissa brisman. he was seen on video, calmly checking his phone as he walked. once in jail, markoff was put on suicide watch, but it's not immediately clear if he was still being watched. tonight, police in boston are investigating, and one jail source told abc news markoff put his medical expeer these to use
and clearly knew what he was doing. aaron kaer the ski, abc news, new york. and prosecutors in buffalo, new york, have dropped murder charges against a man ape accused of opening fire outside of a restaurant yesterday, killing four people. but police are still holding hill right now and could charge him again if they find more evidence. and the warden at that privately run prison in arizona has now resigned. one man is still on the loose with the woman who allegedly helped them escape. we're going to head back to the gulf tonight, where the t s shrimp and oyster season opens up. it sounds promising, but the fishermen there are still worried. matt gutman is in louisiana again tonight. matt? >> reporter: dan, we saw a sliver of normality here tonight. fishermen putting up their rigging, taking on fuel, all of it ahead of the season opening just before dawn. but for the folks here who have been starved of their livelihoods, tonight, there is
still some anxiety. the day before, you're about to go shrimping, they told you where is clean and not? >> no. we're going to find out. what happened if we hit the oil? we're going to contaminate our nets and our boat. >> reporter: earlier this month, a.c. cooper dangled this bottle full of oil at a town hall meeting. >> it this is it. we are going to be in deep trouble because this is inside of our bays. >> reporter: and seared into the minds of consumers. danny lee fears no one will buy his shrimp. >> there's talk about them being afraid to buy louisia.a. louisi shrimp. and we hope the market will pick up. >> reporter: it was at lee's that we found kevin marek, making a drastic shift from working on an oil cleanup crew back to his own shrimp boat, where the stakes are higher. what happens if you find a little bit of oil on one of the shrimp in your catch? >> well, you have to throw them away. >> reporter: the whole thing?
>> yeah. that's what they say. >> reporter: dan, now, the fda insists all this gulf seafood is safe to eat. manufacturers and factories aren't convinced. we learned that they told shrimpers they have to sign a waiver that in order to get paid, the thshrimp has to be proven not contaminated. dan? >> matt gut mapp, thank you. there's new questions about the release of a man convicted of a pan-am flight. the doctors who treated him say they were not consulted when he was set free last year. al megrahi is still alive, living in libya. the new american commander in afghanistan said the war has begun to show some modest progress, and those gains need some time to take root. general david petraeus told "the new york times" quote, the president didn't send me over here to seek a graceful exit. they were his first comments since taking command. today, the u.n. secretary-general, a man who has
seen his share of natural disasters, took a flight over the flooding in pack stap and said he had never seen anything like it. 20 million people are homeless there. american troops are now racing to help the victims before muslim militants can get there. jim sciutto is in pakistan tonight. >> reporter: u.s. army and marine helicopters are delivering aid to some of pakistan's neediest flood victims. a crucial mi n, w u.s . officials hope will improve america's dismal image here. >> the people of pakistan will see that when the crisis hits, it's not the chinese, it's not the iranians, it's not other countries. it's not the eu. it's the u.s. >> reporter: but the u.s. is working at an enormous disadvantage. angry at drone strikes and the war across the border in afghanistan, two-thirds of pakistanis view the u.s. unfavorably. to see whether these aid flights are beginning to change that view, we joined them on a trip to bahrain, in the swat valley,
in a village now dependent on american help. residents we met were both grateful and pleasantly surprised. has this help changed the way you view america? >> american, they support the needy people. >> reporter: yeah. did it surprise you? >> yes, it was a surprise. >> reporter: american aid following the oment 2005 earthquake here helped drive favorable opinions of the u.s. up slightly, from 23% in 2005 to 27% in 2006. before falling even lower and never recovering. u.s. officials are telling me the difference this time is that the relief missions are part of a much broader, longer term development plan. $7.5 billion in aid over five years, which, dan, they hope will have a much more lasting effect. >> jim sciutto reporting tonight from pakistan. and coming up here on "world news" this sunday, debunking the myths about drowning. why even parents may miss the signs that their children are in
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and many of us, even life guards, often miss the real trouble signs. it is entirely possible to see somebody drowning and not even know it. here's linsey davis. >> reporter: in the long-running tv show "baywatch," drowning often looked like this. and remember this? in real life, it can be far less obvious someone needs help. in this old home movie, two parents look on unaware their children are silently drowning. frank pie knew what to look for. he's the life guard who saved them. >> drowning is suffocation in the water. since the respiratory system was designed for breathing and not speech, since the person is not getting enough in to breathe, they're not going to call out for help. so, that's myth number one. >> reporter: pia says lifeguards don't know what real drownings look like, and other swimmers may not raise the alarm, either. a recent study found half of the
drownings at guarded pools happened with 1 to 5 similwimme present. part of the problem? swimmers expect drownings to play out like they do on hollywood. >> like this, splashing around. >> they try to put their hands up, but they can't really get them up because they're drowning. >> reporter: we all have a drawning response, so, try and imagine that the surface of the water is like a platform. someone who is drowning would use the surface at leverage to try to push their mouth out of the watt sore they can breathe. for someone looking on, they wouldn't see arms flailing in the air, they would see arms flapping the water. it may look like play, but the struggle is quick. 60 seconds for adults, 20 seconds for small children. a tragedy that's preventable. let's look at water safety tips. make sure everyone in your family learns how to swim. that you know how to me form
cpr. and, it's not enough to keep an eye on your kids. parents need to practice reach supervision. meaning that you can get to your children within a matter of seconds. and dan, just since memorial day, nearly 300 children in the u.s. have drowned. >> lynn sinsey davis, thank you and when we come back, the ads portraying mormons as cool, diverse and open-minded. why one mormon says he is confused. okay. all packed.
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started running some highly produced new ads in nine steps across the country. church officials say it's an attempt to portray mormons in a way that may surprise some people. we found one liberal mormon who says the ads are, in fact, misleading. the church says this ad campaign is all about breaking stereotypes. >> i'm a skateboarder and i'm a mormon. >> i'm fast. i'm a dad. and i'm a mormon. >> it's a big tent. we have members that are very diverse and i think people are very surprised to see that. >> reporter: john delynn, a progressive mormon, says he finds the ads not so much surprising as confusing. >> there's a difference between what the prophets teach us and what this pr campaign is holding up. >> reporter: delynn, who runs a podcast called mormon stories, says the ads misrepresent what the church really teaches. for example -- >> i believe that a woman's place is actually not in the kitchen. >> the church i grew up with,
the mom is supposed to stay home and take care of the kids. >> reporter: delynn says, no matter what the ads say, sex schism and racism are still baked deeply into mormon scripture. distrust of mormonism in this country extends all the way back to the church's founding in the 19th century. something mitt romney had to contend with in his presidential race. >> let me assure you that no authorities in my church or of any other church will exert ins influence. >> reporter: the image as mormons after every day americans -- >> i'm a mother -- >> i'm a lucky husband. >> i'm the guy next door who has really noisy kids. >> reporter: can only help romney if he runs again in 2012. the church denies there's any political agent day in this campaign, and also denies that the ads are an effort to combat the blow-back the church received after diving so deeply into the fight against gay marriage in california. john delynn isn't so sure. nonetheless, as an active
mormon, he is, he says, hopeful. >> my hope is that this campaign is aspirational, meaning that the leaders want to have a new set of values within our culture. >> and if you want to see more of our faith coverage, you can go to abcnews.com/beliefs. and when we come back, the man who captured musical genius, and when we come back, the man who captured musical genius, in black and white. and i wondered was. i found out that connected to our muscles are nerves that send messages through the body. my doctor diagnosed it as fibromyalgia, thought to be the result of overactive nerves that cause chronic, widespread pain. lyrica is believed to calm these nerves. i learned lyrica can provide significant relief from fibromyalgia pain. and less pain means i can do more with the ones i love. [ female announcer ] lyrica is not for everyone. lyrica may cause serious allergic reactions or suicidal thoughts or actions. tell your doctor right away if you have these, new or worsening depression, or unusual changes in mood or behavior or any swelling or affected breathing, or skin,
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and finally from us tonight, we learned today that one of the world's great photographers has died. herman leonard might be the unofficial photograph of jazz. look hard at his pictures, you can almost hear the music. ♪ i'll be seeing you >> reporter: herman len narpds photographed all the greats from the hey-day of jazz. billie holly day, tony ennet, ella fitzgerald. his subjects were creating a new art form.
one whose hallmark was improvisation. >> the good ones improvise. you had out of the ordinary, and introduce a new way, and that will make a mark. >> reporter: and leonard was improvising right along with them, bending light and smoke instead of the notes from trump trumpets or saxophone. >> this one was done in the '50s, and i had a print framed in my house in new orleans when the hurricane katrina came in. we had eight feet of water. apparently, the water seeped in and stopped right around his face. ♪ luck be a lady tonight >> reporter: leonard was not only lucky, but smart. he got his negatives out of new orleans before the storm could swamp them. saving a life's work that gave his life so much meaning.